When I have enough energy left over after a busy week, I like to spend a couple of hours of the weekend making some art. Although I mainly do it just for fun, it is a lot more fulfilling if I come out of my art time with something good to put on my wall, give away, or maybe sell. Unfortunately this is usually where I run into problems. For all of the time I spend painting, drawing, printing, or sculpting, I have very little to show for it. Something always trips me up. So this summer I set out to identify my artistic hang-ups and apply that knowledge to my next project in the hopes of producing more art to put on walls and less to hide away in my closet. Here’s how it went:
My hang-ups One of the biggest things I struggle with is impatience. I hate to admit this, but I’m just plain lazy sometimes. If painting portraits were my full time job and I did it for 40 hours a week, I’d be really good at it by now. But since painting and drawing are just hobbies for me, I really hate spending my art time doing practice drawings to develop my skills. I want to have a finished product by the end of my time. This is why I normally steer clear of realism. I mainly shoot for creating a lovely abstract piece. Good idea, right? There’s so much freedom in the abstract, so what could go wrong? I’ll tell you.
Where there is freedom, there is someone who will abuse it, and I am such a person. I start off with such simple and good intentions. “Oh, I’ll do a few lines in blue over here and then come in with a big yellow splatter on the other side. Piece of cake!” But then I see another color that must be included, and for some reason I decide there should be more triangles, and pretty soon I have a muddy mess of colors with no real shapes or structure. I’ve decided that if I want to come away with anything that looks good, I have to give myself some boundaries, come up with a game plan and stick to it.
Based on this knowledge of my artistic hang-ups, here are the choices I made for my latest project:
What medium should I use? The quickest and easiest choice was pen and paper. Preparation and cleanup simply involved taking the cap off of the pen and putting it back on again.
What style? Abstract of course! But I decided to limit myself to the basics: geometric shapes, straight lines, curved lines, and a few wavy lines. Nothing too organic because I wanted structure. I also stuck to just a couple of patterns: parallel lines, dots, and checks.
What size? I think this was my wisest choice of all. I decided to make 2.5″x3.5″ cards that could be grouped together into a larger piece. This was a very satisfying process because I was able to fill up each card in a matter of minutes and view it as a finished product on its own. Then I could either continue making some more or just call it quits for the day and still feel good about what I had completed.
What colors? I made three different sets, each with a limited palette. In the first set I used colored card stock as my base and drew on it with a black marker and a white paint pen for ultimate contrast. The second set was made on white card stock and I used a set of pens that were sold together for people like me who make bad color decisions when left to their own devices. And finally, on the third set I went wild and bought some metallic gold and bronze paint pens to use on black card stock.
And here are the results!
I don’t think they’ll be hanging in the Louvre anytime soon, but they are interesting to look at, cohesive, and complete. I’m just happy to have actually finished three sets! Art time was a success!